Since the referendum in 2014 suggesting at least 45% of Scots wanted independence, Better Together’s own research showing that as many as 66% liked the idea if they thought it could be afforded and, recently, as support seems to be creeping past 50%, I’ve expected STV News to ‘smell the coffee’ and realise the commercial madness of continuing to report from a Unionist perspective.
I did observe a more balanced approach as early as the 2015 General Election. See this:
Last night, as I watched Reporting Scotland’s hatchet job on the Health Secretary and their avoidance, despite having 30 minutes to cover it in, of the large sample opinion poll showing support for independence at 52%, I decided to compare them with the STV broadcast at 6pm.
STV headlined the poll and gave it a measured response. It was by no means uncritically enthusiastic about the research or the findings, but they were essentially fair and on the problems with the new hospital, they were more professional and less tabloid.
RS Headline: New fears about the new Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh are to be investigated.
STV Headline: Health warning. Could parts of Edinburgh’s new children’s hospital be ripped down because of problems with its drainage?
The STV headline is undeniably melodramatic but does not imagine fears and is careful to accurately refer to ‘parts’ rather than to the whole building as RS are to do, below:
RS: A union official has warned the hospital might never open because of serious problems with the drainage systems.
STV: The Health Secretary is able to say forcefully that ‘nobody can say that it is either in or out as an option because nobody as yet is in possession of all the facts. That includes me!
The above comments from the Health Secretary are essential in understanding what the situation actually is, in sharp contrast to the frankly silly suggestion of ‘never opening’ and any decent journalist would recognise the need to foreground them. STV did and repeated them for emphasis later in the report but RS did not. They’re either stupid or deceitful.
RS go on to report:
- £150 million pounds to build, a million and a half to run but no patients at Edinburgh’s shiny new children’s hospital.
- ‘Some’ senior staff have told a ‘senior’ union official that the hospital might never open.
- Labour and Conservatives are calling for further investigation
- Professor Alan Dunlop has concerns over the way the contracts operate.
- Sick children continue to be treated in a building more than a century old
STV continued with a fuller report but, notably, are careful to refer again to only parts of the building, perhaps, requiring to be ‘ripped down’ and to use the words ‘worries’ and ‘concerns’ rather than ‘fears.’ They also remind us of the Health Secretary’s insistence that the demands for a full public inquiry are premature and that it’s hoped a full safety review of the building will be completed by next month. STV do not allow Labour and Conservatives to hijack their report as RS did.
Perhaps most interesting was STV’s editing of the trade unionist’s comments. Rather than the RS approach of using him to generate fear about the hospital, STV choose this:
‘It’s a million and a half pounds of taxpayers’ money going to a private company for a hospital that we can’t get into. Surely we should be talking compensation for NHS Lothian.’
STV do allow Monica Lennon in at the end and repeat suggestions of pressure, but only ‘pressure’ on the Health Secretary and, critically, the reporter concludes with:
‘Those calls for a public inquiry, those are premature. She repeated today, we need to deal with the facts. She understands the frustrations of staff and the patients who should be using those services there. ‘